Life Style

Retirement: how to reinvent the life together and grant your desires?

” Highly retirement ! “ Bertrand, 52, computer engineer, half jokes, but retirement, he’s been thinking about it for a while. “I will finally be able to do what I want and no longer depend on a boss”, he launches a bit provocative. His dream ? Go and live in the mountains to do “Mountaineering, skiing, cycling. An accomplished sportsman, this adopted Parisian hopes to be able to take advantage of this time of freedom to satisfy his passions.

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Seen from afar, retirement appears to be the time of all possibilities. However, the reality is often very different. Employees idealize retirement because they do not know what they are going to be faced with, observes Anasthasia Blanché, psychoanalyst and psychotherapist (1). It is a radical turning point, a break with working life and a profound change in identity that is destabilizing. “ As for free time, it depends a lot on the family situation. “Some retirees take care of grandchildren but also their sick elderly parents. The idea that you do what you want is often a delusion. “

Women are often more happy to retire

Even when all the conditions are met to take full advantage of it, the spouses must still share the same desires. Thus, Carine, Bertrand’s companion, does not dream no mountain at all. Her wish would rather be to settle by the sea, even if this 50-year-old woman, mother of two teenagers, is not ” not in a hurry to quit her job as an editor. Retirement is perceived differently depending on whether you have a rewarding job in which you feel good and a food job in which you have little investment, analyzes sociologist Serge Guérin (2). France is, in any case, the western country where employees want to stop working as soon as possible and where they report the most suffering at work. “

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Women would sometimes be happier to retire than men, who are more attached to the social status granted by work, according to the specialist. “They often have several lives and their identity is not based only on their profession“, he decrypts. In addition, adds Anasthasia Blanché, they have already experienced a major identity change at the time of menopause, which allows them to put these changes into perspective ”.

Approaching retirement as a couple

They would also have different desires: Many prefer to stay where they live, unlike men, notes the psychologist. They are also more happy to take care of grandchildren and have a greater appetite for self-knowledge and personal development. Once out of parental and professional roles, they tell themselves it’s time to take care of them. ” The men, them, “Often dream of moving to a house deep in the woods or settling in their region of origin, Anasthasia Blanché also observes. Some will feel idle and get depressed because they have lost their social status ”.

At least 25 years of common life in perspective

This gap with the spouse, AnneMarie, 67, a former executive in the territorial function, has experienced it. My husband retired at 55 and quickly settled into a peaceful life, between crosswords, reading and preparing meals ”, she says. “Our rhythms were totally different, and I had to anticipate my retirement to save our marriage. It was a financial sacrifice for me but I felt it had to be done. Since then, the gap has eased but we continue to follow different paths. I am very involved in an association of retirees and in our parish, which he does not always understand. He remains involved in his judo club, despite some health concerns that also prevented us from doing things together. Fortunately, she adds, we come together around a common passion, photography, and our six grandchildren. “

Sometimes the spouses do not manage to reconcile their aspirations and the couple ends up separating. The divorce rate among those over 60 thus tripled between 1996 and 2016, according to INED. “Young retirees have inherited the values ​​of 1968 when freedom and personal development were highly valued at the time”, notes Marie Auffret, editor-in-chief of Our time, a Bayard group magazine dedicated to seniors. “Not to mention that today, couples still have at least twenty-five years of life together ahead of them and that they have no role model to identify with. We have to reinvent life together ”, she suggests. And ” to reinvent oneself ” also, adds Serge Guérin, even if “Not everyone always wants it”.

Finding compromises in the organization of daily life

Anasthasia Blanché advises, for her part, to start by taking stock of her desires: ” What do I want ? Is this achievable at my age and are my interests compatible with those of my spouse? “ Then, she continues, “You have to organize a sort of ‘Grenelle du couple’ to know the wishes of the other, to see if they can match their own and find compromises in the organization of daily life, between family time, rhythm and territory of each ”.

In some couples, freedom will be difficult to negotiate because one of the partners will have difficulty accepting that the other does things alone. In others, it will be necessary to impose separate activities so as not to have the feeling of suffocation. “Even fusional couples, who used to do everything together, risk feeling trapped, warns the psychologist. We must not forget that in retirement we find ourselves in pairs, face to face, between four walls, 24 hours a day. It is therefore essential to find a new balance so that the couple, whatever their functioning, can flourish and even, why not, experience a new honeymoon. “



At the end of 2019, France had 16.7 million retirees, an increase of 300,000 people compared to the previous year, according to the 2021 panorama of the Department of Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics ( Drees).

The average retirement age was 62 years and 2 months. The cessation of activity thus occurs one year and eight months later than before the pension reform of 2010.

The average pension, all schemes combined, amounted, at that date, to € 1,503 gross per month. An amount down by 1.1% compared to 2018 due to a revaluation of pensions below inflation. However, this figure masks a 40% gap between those of women (€ 1,145) and those of men (€ 1,924).

However, the median standard of living of retirees remains higher than that of the general population.


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